A growing number of U.S. veterans say they have developed serious health ailments, including bladder cancer, after facing prolonged exposure to a variety of highly toxic chemical agents while stationed at military bases & installations owned and/or used by all branches of the United States Armed Forces, including:
- trichloroethylene (TCE)
- perchloroethylene (PCE)
- vinyl chloride
- heavy metals
- radioactive materials
- perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
- perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
The pollutants identified at military sites likely increased the risk of bladder cancer in those exposed
In addition to the military commands, training centers, motor pools, and disposal dumps, military bases have daycare centers, schools, family housing areas, gyms, libraries, administrative offices, shopping centers, and hospitals. The groups that can apply for military housing include:
- active-duty military and family members
- guard and reserve members and families
- employees in federal civil service
- retired military and federal civil service
- DoD contractors
Years later, many of them developed serious medical conditions, including bladder cancer, caused by exposure to harmful substances. It's believed that the contamination came from many sources, including:
- leaking underground fuel storage tanks
- a dry-cleaning company near the base
- chemicals used to degrease and clean the military equipment on the base
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of artificial chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a wide range of industrial and commercial applications since the 1940s. For example, PFAS have been used specifically in some synthetic Class B firefighting foams, including aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). Several epidemiological studies have suggested that the post-exposure effects of PFAS could be associated with changes to the cells in bladder tissue, which can ultimately lead to bladder cancer.
Trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, and other organic solvents identified as possible bladder carcinogens
Bladder cancer begins with a genetic mutation in the DNA structure in cells, which can affect how they grow. This means that cells grow and reproduce uncontrollably, producing a lump of tissue called a tumor.
Several factors have been identified that can significantly increase the risk of developing bladder cancer, including exposure to certain industrial chemicals such as trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, and benzene. For example, trichloroethylene is a halocarbon widely used as an industrial solvent for metal-degreasing operations. A substantial number of epidemiological studies have reported the risk of different cancers on exposure to trichloroethylene.
The biggest risks observed were bladder, kidney, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Tetrachloroethylene (also referred to as perchloroethylene) is one of the most important chlorinated solvents worldwide and has been produced commercially since the early 1900s. A cohort study observed a significant excess risk of bladder cancer among dry-cleaning workers in both males and females.